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Pent-Up Pup? Our favorite spots in Chicago for indoor play

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There is something magical about the first snowfall. That crisp feeling of walking outside to a newly white-blanketed yard, so quiet you can hear a twig fall. But once the holidays have come and gone and the excitement wears off, it’s just more of the same—gray skies, dirty snow, and icy sidewalks. Nothing about it feels like a winter wonderland.

Our dogs are impacted by the humdrum stretch of winter too, as their walks get shorter and the paw-wipings get longer. What’s a Chicago pet-lover to do? Run around inside, of course!

TAILS rounded up a few of our favorite ways to keep you and your pups happy and socialized in Chicago, even when the thermometer is not your friend.

Safety first: It’s always important to make sure your pet is protected, and with the recent outbreaks of the canine flu it’s more critical than ever. If your dog is going to be around other dogs often, talk with your vet about the CIV (canine flu) vaccine. Make sure your dog is up to date on all of her usual vaccines as well.

If you are planning to visit a doggie daycare, call ahead to check their policies. All responsible daycares will require proof of vaccinations before you can join the party. (And if they don’t, run the other way… these guidelines are in place for a reason!) Generally facilities look for Bordetella, Rabies, and the Distemper/Parvo vaccine. Some also ask for fecal tests, and many may encourage— but not require—the canine flu vaccine. Titer tests are often acceptable as proof of vaccination, but always call to check before heading out.

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The Open Gym room at Urban Pooch Training & Fitness Center. Image: UrbanPoochTraining.com
The Open Gym room at Urban Pooch Training & Fitness Center.
Image: UrbanPoochTraining.com

OPEN GYM

Where: Urban Pooch Training & Fitness Center 5400 N Damen Ave, Chicago UrbanPoochTraining.com

When: Saturdays & Sundays, 9:30-11am Wednesday, 9–10:30am

How much: $10/session

What: Dog-friendly canines are welcome to romp around to their heart’s delight at Urban Pooch’s brand new fitness facility. The expansive open gym room has toys, agility equipment, and a soft floor for wrestling around with doggie friends. Does your pup need to run it out? Tack on a guided treadmill session, $15 for 15 minutes or $30 for 30 minutes. And, for a more focused way to entertain and condition your dog, check out some of the classes offered such as FitPaws, K9 Nosework, or agility.

RUN AMOK

Where: Bark Avenue Playcare 1959 W Fulton St, 1st Floor, Chicago BarkAvenuePlaycare.com 

When: Saturdays, 2:30-4:30pm

How much: $10

What: Let your pent-up pooch burn some energy by running around with other four-legged friends at this indoor dog park. If she gets dirty while playing, no problem—Bark Avenue has a groomer available by appointment. And while she is looking her best, you may want to schedule a photo shoot with their in- house photo studio (also by appointment only.)

PUPPY PARTIES

Where: Paradise 4 Paws O’Hare Location: 10516 United Pkwy, Schiller Park; Midway Location: 5262 South Kolmar Ave, Chicago Paradise4Paws.com

When: Depends on reservation

How much: $75/hour

What: Does your dog have a group of friends? Give them their own playtime party! Paradise 4 Paws gives you everything you need for a pup party, down to the water bowls (with treats for humans too, of course). Add $25 an hour for a lifeguard if you want to make use of the doggie splash pool. In addition to Puppy Parties, the facility has treadmill and swim packages, and even kitty laser tag for the cat who’s sick of staring at the same spot on the wall all day. Times for other services vary, as do costs (they start at $15).

STRUCTURED DOGGIE DATES

Where: Canine Crews/Lisa Collins 1616 N Washtenaw Ave, Chicago CanineCrews.com or CollinsCanine.DogBizPro.com

When: Sundays, 11am $10 for 30 minutes (*Dogs that are not previous clients of Collins Canine may be required to do a $30 evaluation prior to first session)

Reservation required: Email info@CanineCrews.com or call 773.235.1616

What: Doggie Dates allow two adult dogs (one year old and older) to play together in a safe and controlled environment, supervised by a professional trainer to provide instruction on getting the most out of play time. Your four-legged friend can safely socialize and release energy, while you get to enjoy taking home a sleepy pooch at the end.

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Chicago dog parents need to get crafty while waiting for spring, and sometimes just getting your pooch out of the house is enough to take the edge off. Here are some creative ways to run errands while entertaining your canine companion at the same time.

RETAIL THERAPY

You’ve seen the power walkers doing laps in their warm-up suits and sneakers—now you and your dog can join in the fun! Grab his leash and head out for some indoor adventures.

The following chains have a mostly across the board pet-friendly policy, but in some each store manager has the discretion to ask any animal—except of course a service dog—to leave. Always be a good doggie ambassador and be respectful of other shoppers. Keep your dog close to you and on- leash, bring poop bags for the unexpected accident, and if your dog begins to bark or create any type of commotion, look for the nearest exit! Just as with so many things in life, it only takes a few “bad apples” to ruin it for the rest of us, so be sure you and your dog are both on your best behavior!

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DOG-CENTRIC DESTINATIONS

Of course, nothing delights a dog’s sense more than a trip to a pet store. Aisles of wonderful treats, toys, and items made just for their enjoyment is the perfect window-shopping experience (for they never do seem to remember their wallets).

There are too many pet stores in the Chicagoland area to list here, but we have yet to find one that does not allow animals! Choose your favorite local pet store and head out for a field trip that is guaranteed to chase your furry four- legged family member’s winter blues away. Just beware of those strategically placed bones and chew sticks on the bottom shelf… pet retailers know their customers, and most abide by the “you-eat-it-you-buy-it” policy!

Bonus: The Cook County ordinance prohibiting pet stores from selling animals has officially passed, so you can feel good about shopping anywhere!

RELATED: Activity Hound: Indoor & Outdoor Winter Games for Your Dog

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